How embarrassing, I'm now claiming to be of Anglo-Irish descent.

An otherwise interesting article in the Belfast Telegraph is somewhat
spoiled by the headline:

How Ulster Scots put Bush in power

It must be hard enough trying to convince the world of the validity of an Ulster-Scots identity without burdening it with this!

Nell McCafferty is quoted –

‘Unionists are boring, though I will say this about them – you can throw everything you have at them, and we did, and they’re still f****** standing there. It’s like that film Zulu. You have to respect them for that. Yep, I salute them, the b******s.’

  • cg

    I find the whole thing quite funny.

  • David Christopher

    Another piece, which also references “Born Fighting” can be found over on democratic underground:

    Ted McClelland discusses the ethnic and geographical origins of the present-day cleavage between Republican and Democratic states in the US, and cites the Scots-Irish among others.

    McClelland is not, to be put it mildly, of the pro-Bush perspective, and his article is not kind to the Scots-Irish, painting them in a caricatured fashion. It’s also historically oversimplified, and occasionally inaccurate, but if you can put up with all that, it’s worth the read.

  • davidbrew

    Nell McCafferty is an odious obnoxious waspish and corruscatingly honest writer, who’s always worth reading, if only to bemoan the fact that it has to be her who tells it like it is to the Free Staters instead of someone more amenable.

    I actually have a grudging admiration for her honest sectarianism instead of the smarmy gloop from Hume and now Adams. The woman might almost be a Prod, she’s so politically incorrect. They should have made her President instead of the recently re elected clotheshorse. Ireland would have rocked!

  • carlosblancos

    Pathetic. Historically true but ask any of the Scots-Irish/Ulster-Scots* (*select as appropriate accoring to your own anti Democrat or anti Nationalist sentiment) where they came from when ‘winning the west’ and they’d have said Ireland. Plain and simple.

    The identity crisis suffered by Unionism is all too clear in this article. Grow up please – the icons of Unionist history were proud to be Irishmen. Carson would have laughed at the notion of ‘Ulster Scots’…and, strangely, no-one in Scotland ever claims to be Scots/Irish or Ulster Scots….wonder why?

    Don’t let Southerners define what ‘Irish’ is.

  • Will

    This is all part of John Laird’s ploy to slowly turn Ulster-Scots into a complete laughing stock.

  • Ringo

    President Nell & the Rev. First Minster – now that would be fun….

    The article is pretty poor. Worst of all, the insinuation that the US’s stance post-Sept 11th is due to the resolve of the Scots-Irish is very lame. Even assuming there are 27m people of Scots-Irish descent, are we to believe the other 90% of the population wanted to curl into a ball and hide?

    If traditional Irish-Americanism didn’t exist then this article wouldn’t have been written.

  • James

    “John Kerry’s defeat and George W Bush’s victory to the former’s failure to connect with the Scotch-Irish constituency and the latter’s undoubted ability to tap into the values and culture of that same constituency. “

    More master race twaddle. In the US white people, especially white men, tend to vote republican period, full-stop.

    The “values and culture” of dear old dad’s cousins were such that the wimminfolk were down at the temple by the fair grounds rollin’ around the floor and speaking in tongues while the menfolk were on the other side of town rollin’ around the floor of the Gay Chateau at each other’s throats.

  • Cahal

    “Our contribution to the growth and development of the super power is clearly much more important and is now being belatedly recognised.”


    “we’re better than themmuns”

    Can a Scotch-Irish tradition not exist independently of anti-Irishism?


  • James

    “Can a Scotch-Irish tradition not exist independently of anti-Irishism?”

    They are linked.

    I have not found reference to our being called “Scotch-Irish” until the latter half of the nineteenth century. For instance the Scotch Irish Society of the USA was formed in 1889.

    My cut on this is that we were passing for English or Scots. This includes the Royalists who fled to Canada and then returned after the Revolution as well as the frontiersmen who left a trail of wasted farms and dead natives behind them on their way south from Pennsylvania. This all changed when my mother’s people came streaming off the boats in the 1840’s and 50’s. The Anglos then cast sideward glances our way and recollected that hadn’t we had come from the same Ireland as these barefoot, illiterate, bogtrotting papists? Oh no, we replied. We are SCOTCH-Irish not Irish, for heaven’s sake and we are Presbyterian to boot (well, probably Baptist by that time to be accurate,). We ain’t like those papist aborigines (note the date) that the No Nothings are daily pounding into a bloody pulp on the docks and streets.

    And that’s how you survive in America.

  • Davros

    The Irish RCs’ religion would have seemed very alien to any Roman Catholics already in the USA and Canada.

  • James

    “The Irish RCs’ religion would have seemed very alien to any Roman Catholics already in the USA and Canada.”

    Yes, themuns probably did it to themselves, too. There was an obvious class distinction and a drive toward “respectability” which surfaced in a couple places, notably the church hierarchy’s rally against the Molly Maguires. It is an obscure issue here, though, and would probably only be raised to validate the Yankee campaign against the emigrants although I cannot recall even the Klan bringing that one up. One could also argue that the Yankees were hostile to all emigrants and the Irish just happen to stumble in at the wrong time. You might be able to validate these arguments, perhaps even dress them in ethical garb, if you rummaged through some of the diaries of the time. Me, I’ve got to fix the patio door and turn the turkey leftovers into enchiladas.

    This is how the mainstream culture saw it.

    We had a situation similar to the Irish famine emigration but on a vastly smaller scale on the San Francisco peninsula after Saigon fell in 1975. The refugee Vietnamese Catholics did not fit in with the then extant church hierarchy. There was a hellofa lot of flack flying around here for about ten years in the secular and the church media, even a public demonstration or two, before the Vietnamese finally got priests they were happy with. In this case it was the Vietnamese who were waving the placards and not the natives. Where we did dump on the Vietnamese it was because of economics and bigotry, not religion.

  • Davros

    Two interesting links James.
    I’m not sure you quite understood the point I was making though – it wasn’t that the Irish immigrants would have wanted “their own” kind of priests as before the Devotional Revolution Most Irish Catholics weren’t Church(building) and Priest oriented. Their type of religion was very, very different from Catholicism in the rest of Europe.

    Not sure If I have linked this before , but there’s a sizeable amount here about the RC Church Politics (East and West USA )for the Irish Immigrants and also about attempts to found Irish speaking Communities.

  • James

    I see your interest. The only source I have been able to Google on the Devotional Revolution you mentioned puts the effective date after the end of the famine (and perhaps in response to it?). The inevitable clash between coreligionists would be cultural, since west Ireland emigrants were have to be pig in the parlor hicks as well as Irish speakers AND economic if the emigrants brought undo attention from protestant customers, clients or employers. It had to be significant but I just don’t have a clue about it being dominant.

    Your link did not work but this one does. The link aside, the document is great. The westward moving Irish like all of my mother’s people were cut off from the grasp of the Catholic hierarchy, especially strong leaders like Hughes. I don’t think there is any intellectual movement here, just the effect of distance and lousy Nineteenth Century communications. My cousins the Monahans, for instance, were first baptized whenever the circuit preacher made it up to the Collville reservation. Since old man Monahan bugged out on the wife and family with a white woman, there wasn’t much driving them to go find a priest.

    The reasons Californians get the reputation for being a bunch of space cadets is due to similar mechanics. People move out here from the east or midwest and find themselves free of the ever-present scrutiny of their families and other “responsible” institutions (like church elders or bishops) and are free to reinvent themselves. Some go a little further than others.

  • Davros

    James, I have a copy of Emmet Larkin’s Book “The Historical dimensions Of Irish Catholicism” although I have to own up to only having had time to flick through it. The D.R. was 1850-1875. By 1875 the whole focus of Catholicism in ireland had changed. prior to that Most people rarely saw a priest, and the the Marian tradition was weak. Confession was once in a Blue moon. by the end of 1875 many new churches had been built, the practice of stations had virtually disappeared, People were expected to be regular attenders at Church and Confession. Thus The Church became a centralised and dominant body. All sorts of doctrinal changes were made.
    So the Catholic Religion of many of those emigrating during and just after the famine eg 1850’s and 1860’s bore little resemblence to The Catholicism of mainland Europe and the Americas.
    In religious terms, Ireland was in many ways akin to the Galapagos Islands- isolated and a divergent developement.In fact one of the reasons that Adrian authorised the Cymru-Norman invasion was that the Irish Monasteries were refusing to acknowledge the authority of the mother houses on the Continent.

  • IJP

    Very good points, all.

    Can a Scotch-Irish tradition not exist independently of anti-Irishism?

    Good point. Of course it should. Whether it can, in this society, is sadly open to debate…

    Don’t let Southerners define what ‘Irish’ is.

    A very strong point (though for ‘Southerners’, one may also read ‘Nationalist Ireland’).

    Unionists are yet again falling into a trap if they think the right approach is to deny the bleedin’ obvious. They are Irish, just not in the same way that many Nationalists arrogantly think they ‘should’ be.

    To be slightly fair to John Laird, unfortunately yes Ulster Scots has become a laughing stock on the back of much of his ‘promotion’. However, he does make a serious point – what goes around comes around, two can play at the ‘Kulturkampf’ game. Unionists will get just as good at it in due course, we’ll end up with totally farcical Orange-vs-Green ‘cultural debates’, and real culture will be left with no resources at all.

    All of which is why all government policy should be towards promoting commonality of aims through mixed housing, integrated education and the like…

    An inclusive good night to you all!

  • James

    Make no mistake, I do find this interesting and thank you for bringing it up. Yet I do not think it played a significant part in or against assimilation because (1) it does not appear in the literature I have read regarding assimilation and interaction and (2) over half of all the Irish who emigrated to the US before 1978 did so by the end of by the end of 1875, the period of the “Devotional Revolution” and thus were not subject to its influence. This is not to say it did not play a part in America but that it’s impact stayed in Ireland.

    “Brigid” probably encountered a less constrained Catholicism when she crossed after 1875. She was, perhaps, more conspicuous because of it before her priest told her to lighten up.

    As I mentioned, this is a rather obscure issue amongst Irish-American historical works here and I could not find any in the best of the several tomes that I also “flick through” (piles of books here flicked through but unread), Miller’s “Emigrants And Exiles”. This one is always flicked through because it is such a bitch to read. He does record one instance that supports your argument:

    “prior to that Most people rarely saw a priest”

  • Davros

    I think you might be misunderstanding me James. The factor (one among many) that I raise was that it was the religion of the ones emigrating before 1875 that would have appeared alien to those Catholics already present. i’ll try and find you some more on this.

  • Davros

    From The Catholics of Ulster by Marianne Elliot :

    In his study of devotional literature in the centuries before the Reformation, a Franciscan priest, Canice Mooney, found a ready availability of literature in Irish, much of it perpetuating pagan leftovers or peculiarly Gaelic interpretations of scripture. Significant is the continuing devotion to local saints, the familiar association of saints (and Mary in particular) with kin, and a sense of the vengefulness of the saints reminiscent of the heroic tales.21 ‘St Patrick is of better credit than Jesus Christ’, it was observed in the 1580s, and Colum Cille was considered ‘a god of great veneration with … all Ulster.’22

    p 64


    21 Bergin, Irish Bardic Poetry, 93-100, 254-7, a good thirteenth-century example of this; O’Dwyer, Mary, 91, 100,106, 289; Simms, ‘Frontiers in the Irish Church’, 200. In the Middle Ages the saints were seen in same light as the king or overlord, honour-bound to avenge his vassals; Giraldus Cam-brensis also had noted the peculiar vengefulness of the Irish saints.
    22 Quoted in Mooney, ‘The Irish Church in the Sixteenth Century’, Ir.Eccles. Rec., xcix, III; the foregoing from ‘A Discourse for the Reformation of Ireland [1583]’, in Brewer and Bullen, eds., Calendar of the Carew Manuscripts Preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth, ii, 1575-1588, 367.

    p 496

  • James

    OK, I finally get it. Miller’s concept of this is that they were mainly preliteral and that this caused much of the culture clase yet he does not mention the Catholic vs. Catholic religious aspect.

    No need to go further into it.

  • Davros

    Bugger! I just spent ages finding references 🙂

  • mememe

    i find the whole ulster-scots thing ridiculous to be quite honest. unionists in the north have no more connection to scotland than nationalists. the connection between the whole of ireland and scotland is obvious. many old irish folk sagas mention scotland eg na fianna; and we spoke dialects of the same language. its not only prysbeterians that have scottish connections. but to be honest i find it weasier to take then rabid unionists who constantly claim to be british when a northern ireland is not in bitain, its part of the uk and b the majority of british people really couldn’t give two fucks if they marched of the nearest cliff. unionists and nationalists will have to come to terms with the fact that they are both irish. i have no problem with the british ruling northern ireland, its what the majority of the people want and i believe in democracy. but to create a new “culture” 4 unionists which no-one appears able to define properly in case they get jealous of us fun-loving catholics with our guinness and riverdance, makes a laughing stock of the unionist community. i’m not a fan of ian paisley and his puritanical friends but both them and the wider protestant community of ulster deserve better than that

  • fair_deal


    “I have not found reference to our being called “Scotch-Irish” until the latter half of the nineteenth century. For instance the Scotch Irish Society of the USA was formed in 1889.”

    Sorry to disappoint you but the first use of the term Scotch-Irish is from the 16th century and its first use in America is in 1695. The term was not a 19th century invention.